Everything is new(d) again

I’ve been working and playing.

My playtime has been with our first baby, Ms. Audrey Jane Wiggins. She’s a hoot. Born on January 8, she’s been a non-stop machine, keeping her parents (especially mom) busy changing, feeding, rocking, gazing and laughing. I love it when Audrey smiles, even if the grin’s just a “gas release,” as I’m told.

My worktime has been conducting year-end office adjustments and of course litigation. 2008 is going to be great! We’re revamping some in-house systems, and going to take the changes to our clients (and opposing counsel) soon.

For now, an article appears in today’s NYT entitled, “A Befuddlement of Liquor Laws” by Eric Asimov.

The laws governing direct interstate shipments from wine retailers to consumers are confusing, arcane, inconsistent, often ignored and rarely discussed. The topic comes up now because of the efforts of one online wine merchant, Wine.com, to squelch fellow merchants it suspected of breaking the laws by which it says it was abiding.

In what amounted to its own sting operation, Wine.com last summer ordered wine from several retail merchants and asked them to ship it to states where such shipments are illegal. Upon receiving the wine, Wine.com then sent letters to state regulators turning in the transgressors.

I can’t say that I blame Wine.com for tattling, even if they’re the narc that spoils the transcontinental party. Some of the alcohol laws governing the three-tier system (i.e., separating retailers, distributors and manufacturers) amount to economic protectionism, but if Wine.com plays by the rules, shouldn’t its competitors? [Insert joke here.]

Another good article, entitled “Sex Sells,” appeared in The Economist this week. It happens that the American Economic Association just participated in a gathering of social scientists in New Orleans to discuss, among other riveting topics, sex.

The star attraction there was Steven Levitt, an economics professor at the University of Chicago and co-author of “Freakonomics”, a best-selling book. Mr Levitt presented preliminary findings* from a study conducted with Sudhir Venkatesh, a sociologist at Columbia University. Their research on the economics of street prostitution combines official arrest records with data on 2,200 “tricks” (transactions), collected by Mr Venkatesh in co-operation with sex workers in three Chicago districts.

The results are fascinating. Almost half of the city’s arrests for prostitution take place in just 0.3% of its street corners. The industry is concentrated in so few locations because prostitutes and their clients need to be able to find each other. Earnings are high compared with other jobs. Sex workers receive $25-30 per hour, roughly four times what they could expect outside prostitution. Yet this wage premium seems paltry considering the stigma and inherent risks. Sex without a condom is the norm, so the possibility of contracting a sexually transmitted infection (STI) is high. Mr Levitt reckons that sex workers can expect to be violently assaulted once a month. The risk of legal action is low. Prostitutes are more likely to have sex with a police
officer than to be arrested by one.

Another finding, described as “controversial,” is that “prostitutes do better with pimps—they work fewer hours and are less likely to be arrested by the police or preyed on by gang members.” This perhaps counterintuitive fact occurs, according to one paper, because “pimps pay above the minimum rate required by sex workers in order to attract, retain and motivate the best staff.” If you forget (for the moment) that prostitution is outlawed many places, then the scenario makes sense. If you ask me, the laws of business forge the laws of morality; not the other way around. It’s kinda like paving the sidewalk where the footpath develops.

A few other interesting links (courtesy of How Appealing):

I guess that sinning & winning don’t go hand-in-hand.

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